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A new writer will swing his stick at the Sean Avery movie

April 26, 2010 |  6:03 pm

EXCLUSIVE: As lifelong haters of the New York Rangers, it irks to write of progress on any movie project involving the team, especially the most hateable of all New York Rangers, the uber-gentlemanly Sean Avery.

But it's hockey playoffs time -- and the writer who's now set to, er, tackle the movie about the bluest of Broadway blueshirts has some chops -- so we figured why not.

A while back, the movie, titled "Puckface," sold to New Line and began coming together. Now the picture is getting a boost -- namely, an up-and-comer named Chip Hall, a longtime writer and producer on "King of the Hill" as well as the current Spike TV college-football satire "Blue Mountain State." Hall has been hired to write a new draft, picking it up from Stan Chervin, who also was an early writer on another high-profile sports movie, "Moneyball."

Hall is a welcome figure on the New Line/Warner Bros. lot -- welcome the way Mike Bossy will always be welcome on Long Island -- with a gig already booked to write the sports comedy "Liam McBain: International Tennis Star and Proper English Geezer" for Warner Bros. He'll need all the skills he can muster for "Puckface," on which he'll have the unenviable task of making Sean Avery sympathetic, even likable.

Avery, as hockey fans and general chroniclers of thuggery know, is renowned a little for his stick-handling  and a lot for his goonishness (that's him on the right above, discussing Shakespeare with a player on the Montreal Canadiens). He's one of those NHL-ers who prompted the league to enact new rules after he tried some new moves (like turning his back to the play and waving his stick in the face of opposing goalies). And he was famously ridden out of Dallas and back to the Rangers after trashing other players -- he used a colorful phrase to make his point -- who had dated his ex-girlfriends.

But Avery is also a more complicated soul (we're told), a self-styled fashionista and restaurant proprietor who, when he's not inventing new ways to get under the skin of other NHL-ers, is happy to opine on all things fashion. A few years back, he actually spent a summer interning at Vogue, and the movie is a romantic comedy of sorts about his time there. Think "The Devil Wears Prada," only in this case the devil is an actual devil (but not a Devil).

"Puckface" still elicits the delicious question of who shall play the chippy skater. It is, however, being produced by Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson. In addition to the Avery movie, the pair are veteran producers who are behind, among other films, "The Number 23" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," films built around menacing villains. Perfect.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Sean Avery (right) fights Josh Gorges of Montreal Canadiens. Credit: Al Bello / Getty Images

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